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    5 questions you need to ask before buying an intraoral scanner

    Is it time to take the plunge on an intraoral scanner? Here are five things to consider before you buy.

    Not so long ago, some early adopters of intraoral scanners got beat up for stretching scanners beyond their capacity. Scanners had limited choices, limited materials and limited capabilities.

    As a result, just like other technologies in other industries, the early and late majority rarely joined the party.

    Scanners are now arguably one of the most powerful tools in our trade. But what are the five questions we need to ask before we buy?

    1. Single-visit or scan-only?

    Some dentists will say, “I don’t want to be a lab,” “I love my lab,” “my patients don’t mind coming back,” “quality, or “time management” … the list goes on and on.

    But it’s okay: You don’t have to be the lab. You can continue to work with your lab, appreciate their quality and manage your time as you always have. Alternatively, you can go all in and unleash the true potential of scanners today.

    My best advice is this: Don't just look at today. See your future, the future of dentistry and what your patients really want. With 23 years under my belt, I haven't seen everything, but I’ve seen enough to understand what’s going away and what’s going to stick. Single-visit dentistry is sticking … big time.

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    2. Implants or impressions?

    If there were a perfect storm in dentistry, we’d name it implant. With patient demand and every demographic on our side, we are poised for growth, growth and more growth in the dental implant arena. With that, you need a scanner that allows you to take you out of the physical and into the digital impression space.

    If you said yes to single-visit with the first question, you need a scanner that allows you to build your own custom abutments and custom abutment crowns chairside … and you need it yesterday.

    3. Ortho up or down?

    Whether you’re a full ortho kind of clinician or you stick to appliances, your scanner should have the capability to help you deliver: whether that be brackets, clear aligners, removable appliances or retainers.

    The speed, accuracy and patient experience you and I can now deliver will hands down set you apart.

    4. Integrate or separate?

    Maybe I’m the only one here, but my favorite four-letter word in dentistry is CBCT. In addition to ortho, sleep dentistry, implant planning, surgical guides and full-on guided surgery mean that you and I need a scanner that integrates, not separates.

    Coming full circle to my first point, when you unite a CBCT and your scanner, you scale your ability to mill and/or 3D print just about any appliance you can dream of.

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    5. ROI or RO… Why?

    How will buying an intraoral scanner influence your profit and loss statement? Here’s a short list of areas in which it should dramatically increase your profits:

    • Increased chair-time efficiency
    • Decreased physical impression materials
    • Increased team utilization
    • Decreased temporization materials (when milling or 3D printing are incorporated)
    • Increased scope of procedures
    • Decreased need to refer procedures out
    • Increased presence, influence and new patient flow

    So, as you do your homework, remember these five questions and have an answer that best delivers what matters most to you and your patients.

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